You may or may not have seen or heard about this, the penalty that Luis Suarez scored for Barcelona against Celta Vigo in the Nou Camp on Sunday evening.
Nothing amazing about scoring a penalty you might think, it’s a pretty simple thing for a player to do, isn’t it?
Well, with the score standing at 3-1 and with 80 minutes on the clock, Lionel Messi stepped up to take the penalty he had been awarded just a few moments earlier after a trip had brought him down.
Instead of taking a shot at goal, he tapped the ball to his right and for a moment the Nou Camp and watching millions wondered what on earth was going on. Then Suarez was there, racing in to score past the stranded Celta keeper, who didn’t know what to do. It completed Suarez’s hat trick on the night and was a supremely unselfish act from the world’s best ever player. A replication of a similar move by Johann Cruyff and Jesper Olsen in 1982.
If you haven’t seen it yet then you can watch it courtesy of Sky Sports by clicking the link.
Lionel Messi currently sits on 299 league goals for Barcelona after scoring his 298th to open the night’s scoring with a sublime free kick. It seems to me that he knows the 300th will come whenever he wants it to. The fact he chose to gift a hat trick to Suarez instead of getting his 300th says everything about the team ethic at Barca.
You are probably wondering what this has to do with Norwich City, this being a Norwich fan site and all,well the answer is ‘not a lot, really.’ I just thought I’d bring this to your attention as it was a little bit special, actually it was outrageous but in a good way for football.
I have a soft spot for Barcelona, they are my ‘second team’ if such a thing can ever be truly allowed for a football fan. I don’t follow any other English teams as I’ve always thought that would be disrespectful to Norwich and I could never love another English team, so I rationalise my Barca support by virtue of the fact they play in a different country.
It probably sounds easy to support Barca and in recent times it has been. ‘The Tuckster is a glory hunter!’ I hear you cry. Well, I wouldn’t put it quite like that as my Barcelona support has carried me to the Nou Camp and Catalan capital more than once.
My boss is a Chelsea fan who never goes and was born in Suffolk. He sits at home with his Sky subscription and pays extra for Chelsea TV. His idea of getting ready for the new season is re-covering his favourite armchair and buying a four pack and some peanuts.
To have a little fun with him, I asked him at the turn of the year how many times he had seen Chelsea play in the last decade. He came up with a figure of around ‘6 or 7’ mostly against Norwich and mostly at Carrow Road as he mocked my Barcelona support. He didn’t laugh quite so hard when I mentioned that I had been to see Barca play in the Nou Camp five times in that same decade and pointed out I had no more connection to Barcelona than he has to Chelsea – it’s just that I’ve managed those five games as well as my season ticket at Carrow Road. I can’t stick fans that never go, simply because they can’t be bothered and just watch from afar. I know that not everyone can afford to go to football matches and those that do are in a sort of privileged position, being wealthy enough to do so.
Anyway, when I first made the trip to the Nou Camp it was 1999 and the team was managed by Louis van Gaal. Rivaldo(2), Kluivert and Overmars got the goals in a 4-0 win over Espanyol. Luis Figo and an Espanyol player got sent off in the first half for throwing punches at each other and Pep Guardiola came on as a second half substitute. It was a wonderful experience (I didn’t initially realise it was a derby game) and I suddenly had a second team.
Since then I have seen some of the world’s best players whenever I go there. Ronaldinho in his pomp and then Messi scoring in the Nou Camp when I last went in 2014. Truly wonderful football experiences that will forever stay with me. I have yet to see Suarez, Messi and Neymar together but hope to do that later this year, assuming Neymar isn’t swayed by PSG or Man Utd.
These great experiences are nice to see but my first love is, and always will be Norwich City. The win over Bayern Munich, beating Derby 3-2 in my son’s first ever game and then winning at Wembley last May – all brilliant experiences with my team and that got me thinking.
I have a second team that I almost stumbled upon when I first went to Barcelona in 1999. It was almost a secondary thought to go and see a football game but afterwards I was smitten.
I know not everyone has a ‘second team’ and I know that some fans think of such things as almost disrespectful to their club so I kind of expect some flak for writing this piece but I hope others will understand it.
The second half of Barca v Celta was some of the most incredible football I have ever seen. In the first half Celta bravely went man for man with Barca, which was an interesting tactic from the management but they couldn’t keep it up, despite it being 1-1 at the break. In the second half, Barca worked even harder without the ball and Celta crumbled under a wonderful onslaught (if an onslaught can ever be wonderful) of attacking football.
If you have the time, watch the highlights – you won’t regret it.
I understand that not all football is like this and it’s certainly pretty far from being like this at Carrow Road, but I am a fan of football in general and will watch any game anywhere that I happen to see is on.
This is how I like to see football being played and if you’re a fan then I guess you will too.
I just wish that all football was like this…
Have you got a second team? If so, I’d love to hear about why you follow them and the experiences you may have had.
It’s probably best to mention that you can follow Barcelona with the new Vital Barca for all things Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Iniesta, Pique…